THE NEW DE LA HOYA
Oscar’s cousin dazzles against Caballero to salvage an otherwise drab undercard
WHILE Joseph Diaz Jnr’s somewhat muted 12-round points victory over Mexico’s Rafael Rivera was the official chief support at the T-mobile Arena, it was the excellent performance of Diego De La Hoya that stole the undercard’s headlines.
Despite being the cousin of Golden Boy Promotions boss, Oscar De La Hoya, Diego came into his 10-rounder against former IBF bantamweight champion Randy Caballero as the underdog, and without the experience of his rival. However, he was something of a revelation from the start and went on to score an entertaining, and largely onesided points victory.
Showing off excellent footwork, and a natural ability to find the right punches at the right time, De La Hoya, fighting out of Mexicali, Mexico, zipped in and out of range to bewitch Caballero. A jarring right hand set the tone about a minute into the action and, as early as the second session, the Californian’s features started to swell.
A jarring right staggered Caballero in the fifth, he was wobbled again in the seventh, and a left hand in the ninth and follow-up barrage had the former champion in real trouble. Golden Boy’s Eric Gomez described Caballero as “like a son” to them before the contest but it’s De La Hoya who does them proud. Scores of 100-90, and two of 98-92 confirm De La Hoya’s graduation to world class in the super-bantamweight division. Robert Byrd was the referee.
Meanwhile, Diaz Jnr is now chasing a shot at WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jnr and pretty much did as he pleased against the tough but crude Rivera, who stepped in for the injured Jorge Lara just three days before the fight.
Lively and quick on his feet, southpaw Diaz Jnr dispensed with the jab for large parts of the Tony Weeks-officiated bout, instead burrowing into punching range with his right low, and his left cocked and ready. An eye-catching right hand in the fifth brought a hum of appreciation from the crowd (which was still plenty short of the 22,358 that watched Golovkin and Canelo), and a delightful straight left straightened his rival in the sixth.
Rivera, from Tijuana, Mexico, enjoyed some success in the ninth – a left hook opened up Diaz Jnr before a right clattered home – but the lopsided scores of 120-108 and 119-109 (twice) told the right story.
Before his bout, lanky lightweight starlet Ryan Martin spoke of being tested and proving himself on the big stage. Well, against Mexican hardnut Francisco Rojo the former certainly happened, but the only thing proved was that the judging was just as bad further down the bill as it was at the top. Martin stole the split decision via scores of 91-98, 94-93 and 95-94.
The verdict was a perplexing one, with the two scores that handed Martin victory looking way off.
Rojo dictated the pace early, stalking his favoured rival and bowling over right hands – some accurate, some wayward. Martin appeared to concede the opening five rounds before getting to grips with his pesky rival and, in the sixth, was swatting him regularly. The Chattanooga resident burst into life again in the seventh, an impressive four-shot volley that culminated with a right uppercut-left hook shook Rojo.
But the recovery of Martin – nursing a swollen face – stalled in the eighth, and in the ninth he lost a point from referee Russell Mora for failing to keep his punches above the beltline. The final round was lively, as the two exchanged shots, but it was Roja who looked the fresher and deserving of the decision. Such things mattered little at the T-mobile Arena, though, and it was Martin who had his hands raised.
There was disappointment for Britian’s golden girl Nicola Adams, who was scheduled to make her American professional debut and open up the bill against Hungary’s Alexandra Vlajk. But complications with Vlak’s blood test resulted in the contest being called off just an hour before it was due to start.
THE VERDICT De La Hoya a star in the making.
THE GRADUATE: De La Hoya [right] turns in a virtuoso showing
BOSSING IT: Diaz distorts the face of the brave Rivera